Friday 15 November 2019

'I feared carjacker was going to stab my granddaughter' - Woman terrorised outside hospital

The scene in Bonham street where a car involved in a carjacking from St James's Hospital was burned out.
The scene in Bonham street where a car involved in a carjacking from St James's Hospital was burned out.
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

A terrified Dublin grandmother feared an armed carjacker would stab her baby granddaughter with a syringe as he tried to steal her car at St James’s Hospital.

She was the first victim of a man who seconds later attacked a young mother in the underground car park of the city hospital and stole her car on Sunday evening.

He sped from the hospital in the hijacked car, crashing into another vehicle and a security barrier before driving to nearby Rialto and torching the Skoda saloon.

Speaking to the Herald, the first victim told how she shielded her nine-month-old granddaughter from the attacker when he pounced at around 6.30pm, and how she feared he would drive away with the baby.

“I had visited my daughter in the hospital, and I was at the car putting the baby into it when I heard a voice behind me,” the 52-year-old said.

“He said ‘get the baby out of the car’ and ‘give me the keys’ and I turned around and he was right beside me and I saw the needle in his hand,” she added.

“I stood between him and the baby because I was afraid he would stab her with the needle. I was screaming and I was all confused and in shock. The baby was playing with a keyring so I gave that to him, and then he grabbed my bag,” the victim said.

“We were both pulling the bag and the strap broke, and he ran around and jumped into the car.

“I suffer from epilepsy and thought I was going to have a seizure. I asked him if I could get my medication from the bag but he ignored me. I just had time to pull the baby out of the car as he jumped into the driver’s seat,” she added.

“My screaming alerted the attention of others, and a woman in a car started blowing her horn and then he got out of my car and ran. But then he attacked another woman who was getting into her car with her son and actually got her car and drove away.”

In the second incident the attacker struggled with a young mother who was with her five-year-old son, pushed her to the ground and stole her car.

As he sped away he crashed into another parked car and then drove straight through a barrier at the exit of the car park.

The car was later found burned out on Bonham Street in Rialto.

“This guy was in his late 20s or early 30s, he was small and scrawny and spoke with a Dublin accent,” the first victim said.

“He was wearing gloves and I think he was deliberately targeting women with children because they are vulnerable and have to spend time strapping the children into their cars.”

“I’m speaking out on this to warn other women that this guy is out there, and to be careful in car parks in the city,” she added.

Gardai in Kilmainham are investigating both incidents and sources say they are examining good quality CCTV footage in the effort to track down the dangerous hijacker.

The first victim’s car, and the burned-out remains of the second victim’s car, are also being forensically examined by gardai.

On Bonham Street the site where the car was burned out could clearly be seen yesterday morning.

Neighbours reported hearing loud bangs and then looking out and seeing the car in flames.

“It was well alight when I looked out but there was no sign of anybody around it,” said one neighbour.

St James’s Hospital responded to a query from the Herald regarding both incidents, acknowledging that they happened on Sunday evening.

“We are supporting An Garda Siochana with their investigations,” it said.

CCTV footage will be crucial in trying to identify the attacker and trace the route he took to get to Bonham Street.

The Skoda car that he hijacked from his second victim, which had a 2013 registration, was found on fire at around 9pm and gardai will be anxious to track its movements from when it left St James’s Hospital to establish if it was parked up elsewhere before being found in Rialto.

While the second victim and owner of the stolen car was not seriously injured, it is understood she is in shock.

It is unclear how her young son was affected by the ordeal.

“My thoughts are for that poor mother and her young child,” said the first victim.

“At least my own granddaughter will have no recollection of what happened. That little lad is of an age where he could be aware of what was happening.”

The mother who was injured was treated in St James’s for cuts and grazes to her hands and knees and later discharged.

The shocking incident comes just a week after a young midwife had a knife held to her throat during a late-night robbery at a Dublin maternity hospital.

A garda investigation was launched into the incident at the Coombe Women and Infants University Hospital.

The attacker – who was wearing a blue and red Adidas hoodie – gained access to a restricted staff area where he grabbed the midwife’s bag.

When she tried to wrestle it from him, he produced a knife from his pocket and held it up to her throat. He then fled the scene with the bag.


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